All’s Well; The Owl

One night, I was day-dreaming about being an owl. Not being an owl, actually, but looking like one. It was so late in the night, it was almost early morning. I don’t mean to say, ‘somewhere in the world, it was early morning’, but there, just right there, where I lay, it was so late in the night, it was almost early morning. You never know. (Neither do I)

It was like when once a friend said, “I am middle-aged.” I asked, “How do you know? Unless you know your exact life-span, you can never know when you are middle-aged!” I know the convention for using the term middle-age — I just think it is illogical.

Let me tell you of another conversation I had (and you may recall it, because I wrote about it, “some” time ago). Like Black and White. Whatever scale you assign for the colour range between black and white, both black and white are such tiny specks on that range, the range is almost completely grey.

It’s all sense-making. Late-night, early morning, young-age, middle-age, and old-age. Black and White. Day or night, human or animal, inside or outside. There is no sharp line that separates these pair of opposites, but a band or a scale.

Centuries of us all living together have forced us to make sense to and of each other. Irrespective of the language we employ, sense-making is the true semantic we deal in. When we made sense, things have been somewhat calm; when we didn’t make sense, we went to war; or created a Twitter handle. I prefer the Twitter handle. At least lives aren’t lost. Mostly.

Going to war is also sense-making; somewhat aggressive, but war is a means to make the other person see sense. War is akin to an actor on stage with a monologue. Who actually makes sense, however, depends on who wins the war.

I don’t know how you see it, but I believe we experience more than sense-making, naturally, i.e. when we are left to our own: not having to transmit the same experience, we aren’t limited and coerced to step-up or step down our experience to make sense – to someone else.

The experience is real even without the devices of language and expression. This experience is possible only when we leave the factory of shared constructs. And there’s nothing necessarily grand or glorious about these experiences (though, some may be), But perhaps you will agree with me my dear reader, what makes them grand and glorious, irrespective, is that they are our own.

Perhaps, you will indulge me further, by risking your “agreement” further, that these experiences matter more than sense-making. (I do not yet ask for the indulgence; only the consideration). The question that follows is how would you ask another to cherish these experiences without sense-making?

It’s just another random Thursday in my life, somewhere between late night and early morning. I am thinking: Owl: I almost look like an owl. Almost. Long way to go.

All’s well.

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Optional Appendix

I recall a legend from my childhood. [I’ve over simplified it for this post; link for proper narration at the end]

/Digress Begin

Hiranyakashipu, a demon, once performed penance to Brahma (a God) to acquire immortality. PS: Demon wanted immortality to take revenge against Vishnu (another God). Brahma, though pleased with the austerity and penance, refused immortality (Bro-code). So, Hiranyakashipu chose the next best thing: a proper specification of how Hiranyakashipu could never die. He asked that he never meet his death (and this is just a representative list):

  • not in day, nor in night
  • not inside a house, nor outside
  • not on ground, not in the sky
  • not by a weapon
  • not by your creation
  • not by human or animal
… and the list goes on.
To cut a long story short, he wreaked havoc on the world after he got this boon, and the Gods kept going over the spec, wondering how to vanquish him. Then an avataar of Vishnu – Narsimha (Man-Lion), killed him.
A half-human, half-lion, who wasn’t a creation of Brahma, lifted him up, between earth and sky, on the threshold of a house, tore his entrails with claws, at twilight.
As mentioned, an oversimplistic story-telling. Hiranyakashipu was sense-making. In asking for the boon, he ignored possible experiences, and went with what was common grammar between him and Brahma. It did not include Vishnu’s experiences.

Detailed Story: Hiranyakashipu

/Digress End

A Broken Narrative

Few of my friends know of a certain profile picture I use on Facebook, which indicates that I am away. Every once in a while I test if I can be away from Facebook (and therefore Twitter and other such networks). October was my away month — by my standards. I used Facebook sparsely. I’ll be back on the 1st of November. The last three or four times I did this away exercise, it was more of a test of my addiction, so to speak. While October started with the same purpose; the revelations were interesting to say the least.

The narrative of everything has changed.

There isn’t — according to the way I see it — anything that we can say, that will not be crushed out or hammered in by some ism that someone else follows. Opinions do not have spaces anymore. Jokes have no space. Most people I see, are angry and belligerent. Mostly, deep down, they are defensive – but outwardly they are angry and belligerent. Those that aren’t angry are on a trip, some trip, which offers them a false sense of happiness.

When ideological camps never intersect, where is that common space for us to speak and hear? What is our meeting ground? Not to make a statement; just to speak, to listen to each other. In the race to be heard, no one is listening.

I am not lamenting social change. I have lived my adult life, with and without mobile phones, e.g., and I am aware of the boons and curses of how society responds to changes it did not expect. In these times of (mostly) nonsensical back-and-forth, I struggle to find a place of my own.

~

Within that struggle, I have discovered a small place. It’s nice. Comfortable. Mine. It’s not mine, yet. But I’d like it to be mine. And it has the potential to be mine. In times of predictable spaces, determined by isms, I am fortunate to have found one that allows for isms, but is not dictated by an ism.

~

I am participating in Movember, yet again, this year. (That’s the day I return to Facebook) It has been over half-a-decade of Movembering; I have yet to find an organisation that works for men’s health, in India. If you know of one – do let me know. Nevertheless, It seems, I will be a permanent Movember Member; inspired in no less measure thanks to The Bum.

2016-01-01 17.04.50: Orchha

It’s the festival of lights, here, in India. In my head, there is a philosophical connotation to the festival. To tell you the truth, it is a festival of light and sound. Traditionally, philosophically, and spiritually. Not anymore. Either by armchair activism or sheer usurpation. Those that purportedly attack and those that apparently protect — both have it wrong. Festivals are resilient enough that they can survive attacks. Festivals are strong enough that they do not need protection. I wish I do not live long enough to have to wish “Happy Holidays” for a festival that you celebrate, even if I do not celebrate it. When a festivity is reduced to a holiday – that is when we have lost everything. We should be worried about sameness, assuming we will live long enough to sense it.

My apologies for this line of thinking on such a wonderful festive day. I leave you not with thoughts to discover the light within but just be good. In your own way. Do something nice. I will.

Happy Diwali!

Here’s Looking At Us

Of all the abstract things, time is the most intriguing of all. One might argue that given the measurability and calculability, time is the most discrete of all. But its nature and its character is the most abstract.

I had once said — I don’t remember when or where — that, what’s time, if not the measure of events and incidents? Or, maybe someone else had said, and I just repeated it. Time passes, I forget.

Couple of days ago, a friend said that you give a man (he of course meant, ‘a person’ – he is old school) enough time alone and man will discover himself. I agreed, it made perfect sense, given the context of our conversation. Later, I wondered, if we discover our selves by ourselves or through others. Others can, however, only tell us how they see us; but it becomes a mirror for seeing ourselves, later. So we can discount what others think of us (which we should do more often), but we should not ignore that mirror. In the least, we should see together.

22FEB

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The long drives
The conversations
The silences
The intimacy
The distances
The friendship

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Lifestyle is on sale.

There are too many telling us what a worthwhile life is. But for that, we will have to become the truth that they experienced. I am glad, I never did. Ever. My timeline is not glamorous enough to be published, but it’s mine. And I care not for the future markers and their description.

But I’ve lived, a good time, and in good times. With you. Notwithstanding some of the markers in black, that stand out to give the harmony a unique signature. It’s not perfect, but then we never sought perfect, did we?

It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove. ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry

I know what was, I know what is. I know not, what will be. So, I celebrate only what I know. On the 19th, I will say it again. As well, on the 20th, and the 21st. For I will know more of the is and was than the will be.

Here’s looking at you. And here’s looking at me.

Through the lens of time.

All’s Well; Perhaps

If all my posts were put in a word-cloud, (yes, that’s easily possible, but I am not doing it), perhaps, the word I use the most is, perhaps. The word is a tentative word. People think of it as a weakening or a disclaiming word, often, both. When I speak, I use maybe quite often. Same difference. Words like ‘perhaps’ are the refuge of people without conviction. They lack assertiveness, perhaps. So be it.

“You are being modest,” he said, with some irritation.

“I am being truthful,” I said, “I know what I know, and I know that there’s much that I don’t know. And I know this because I know people who know much more than what I know.”

We will never know everything, for sure. We will also never know everything in a specific discipline of our choice. There will always be something more. Of course, to prove me wrong, you can narrow down the discipline so much that, you’ll know everything in the discipline. And then, you’d be right.

Perhaps (the word) will never figure when we own the conviction of what we know. It’s when we cross the borders of our knowing that we need words like perhaps to help us navigate the unknown landscape of new knowledge. Slowly, we conquer these rich lands, by becoming familiar and then knowledgeable. Steadier now, we step deeper into the Fog of War. When we are faced with low visibility, we have to be tentative, and the vehicles we use to traverse this untravelled terrain, are made up of perhaps and maybe.

And it works well for all that is without. Within is a different mystery altogether.

The Real Spaces between Black and White

The Real Spaces between Black and White

We’d imagine, with all that we know, with all the certainty, the sedimentary maturity of the years, we’d be more expressive and less prone to misunderstandings, for example. Perhaps, words like perhaps and maybe are reminders of how much we know. And how much we don’t.

“In the colour band between black and white, the pure black and the pure white are just tiny specks. Our eyes deceive us,” he said, last Saturday, “and we see the range of grey towards white, and call it white, or we see the range of grey towards black, and call it black. It’s our sense of making sense of things; only because we understand white and black better than grey.” I thought, I’d counter him on that. He interrupted me, before I could start, “I want to explore that infinite band of grey, rather than seeking minuscule specks of white or black.”

In that grey colour band of life, I do not recall a moment of pure white, or pure black. Though, there have been moments that were almost white, almost black. I can, therefore say this:

All’s well; perhaps.

All’s Well; Onward

It has been about loss. We all lose things. They are lost to us forever. Some are trinket-like, and can be found. But our sense of loss dominates the sense of recovery. And some of what we lose is forever; it takes a piece of our heart with it. Our tears are equal at the moment of the loss; trinket or heart. Some losses we get over; for some, the tears continue, silently where no one ever sees them. We shed tears without shedding tears.

It has been about failures. My standards, your standards, acquired standards, inherited standards. We lived by them and we died by them. Because we didn’t actually die, we gave them a name. A failure. And we looked at how we lived against those standards. And when we didn’t; we called it a failure. However, where we always failed, is when we gave no credit to our effort and let the standard dictate the definition.

It has been about gain. Love. While we got busy balancing the books of our life, we did no justice to the important things that we gained, because they didn’t have the columns in our balancing books. But we gained much. Love, e.g. Unable to ascribe a value, we discarded it. But we did gain it. We gained wisdom. We gained discretion. Most important, we gained the sense to know when, where, and how to use our wisdom.

It has been about experience. Not the one we often talk about. Experience is less about the depth of one topic. It is more about the breadth of topics. Depth is not futile; it’s just that breadth spans horizons. We will hardly ever be in situations where we have depth of experience; we will more often be in situations that demand the breadth of our experience.

It has been about success. In fact, it has always been about success. We have sensed it rarely. Yaaay! Those moments have to celebrated more than you think. Like the failures that were stabbed by standards. The degree of a Yaaay! is inconsequential. Each of it has to celebrated with equal aplomb.

It has been about learning. For sure. But where will this learning take us? Will we become armchair activists or will we walk in the field? What will we do with all that learning? Will we only blog and tweet about it or will we make a difference? Will we question what we learnt? Will we un-learn and re-learn?

It should be about letting go. Yes, it should be. But will we? I want to and I will. This day becomes the start and the end of things. Some things end; some start. What will come out of it?

All’s well; Onward!

It’s Enough That We Love Each Other

The other day, a friend asked if I had shifted to Pune. I had been checking-in on various social networks in Pune. Incessantly. Needless to say, My sister and both my nieces ensured that I enjoyed my time while I was there.  When my friend asked if I had shifted base, I replied: “God, no.”

Obviously a part of me does not want to shift to Pune.

Then, that remaining part of me questions me. I hardly twitched when we had to shift to Hyderabad many years ago; no opposition or complaints, when we shifted to Vasco-da-gama. I am thankful that due to the nature of my father’s work, and his insistence that he would take his family along, I have no roots, so to speak. Maybe I am like a Banyan Tree (I am assuming that’s the tree that spreads its roots wide; if it’s some other tree, just imagine I mentioned that one) But I have made many friends. And thankfully, I have made friends across the breadth and the length of this nation. I have some sense of a regional identity. I do. I feel immense pride however, that I experience a national pride. There are a very few people like me, who, do not have a regional identity. People like us feel comfortable in any place almost anywhere in the world.

I had the entire nation to choose as my hometown. A banker, who travelled the nation taught his children to feel at home in any part of this country. There was a time when I could speak fluent Telugu or Konkani. After I finished my education, it was time, to go somewhere. Goa seemed a very good choice to settle down, then. I’ve always loved Hyderabad; still do.

1994. I chose Mumbai. My first love.

By sea, land or air. Mumbai Skyline, Worli

I lived this city. I breathed this city. I made it mine and it made me its own. Since then, my love has only grown.

I saw the various ceremonies that were held today to commemorate the valiant. My hopes from the government notwithstanding, nothing has changed, since a few terrorists came to this city and wrecked mayhem, six years ago. Governments have changed, but the apathy has not. To them this city continues to be place for tax collection.

But, in spite of the apathy, my city will prevail. With, without, in spite of, the government.

 

Happy Diwali

The great festival is upon us, and I wish you all, all the benefits and graces that may be bestowed upon us during this time.

9422: Light Burst

Diwali at once is a festival for rejoicing, and for activism. And if you indulge in both, try to find a balance. New realities are upon us, and we feel the need to curb traditional activities because of our new-found wisdom. If it is wisdom, let the wisdom prevail. Whatever the traditional stories of the festival may be, it is a time for friends and family to be together. Experience happiness with each other. In your effort to protect your pet from the sounds of the fireworks, do not forget to share, increase, and experience the happiness.

The almanac this year provides for a day each, during this week for us to share our love and gratitude with our wives or husbands, our parents, and our sisters or brothers. If the thought behind the gift really matters, then, a simple hug will suffice. Or a phone call or a message expressing your love will suffice. Expensive gifts bought in an online discount sale will matter much less.

Eat good food, be merry, with those who matter the most.

Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali and a very Prosperous New Year!